Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng has questioned why there was talk of extending the LLB programme to five years in South Africa‚ when countries in Europe offered high-quality law programmes in three years.
Mogoeng made this remark at the University of Johannesburg‚ where he was awarded an honorary doctorate in law on Tuesday evening.
Most universities in South Africa offer a four-year LLB programme‚ except the University of the Witwatersrand‚ which scrapped the four-year programme in 2014. The university then introduced the LLB as a two or three-year postgraduate qualification.
There have been complaints about the quality of graduates with the four-year LLB programme from members of the Bar and law firms. Critics claim that the four-year programme do not adequately prepare students for the legal profession.
The Law Society of South Africa requested in 2012 that the LLB be redesigned as a postgraduate qualification after complaints that some law graduates could not read‚ count or reason.
Addressing the graduation ceremony on Tuesday‚ Mogoeng said earlier this month‚ he dealt with the same question at the 2018 African Law School Leadership Forum Conference on Legal Education held at the University of Cape Town.
“I said … I don’t understand why we are even thinking of extending the LLB programme to five years in circumstances where all universities in Europe‚ at least I am reliably informed‚ offer a high-quality undergraduate law degree for three years.”
Mogoeng said most universities in Asia – including the National University of Singapore (NUS) – offered their law degree over a period of four years.
“The Singapore which in 1965 only got its independence.”
NUS was ranked tied 22nd with the University of Toronto by the Times Higher Education rankings in 2018 and ranked 15th by the QS World University Rankings 2018.
Mogoeng said he suspected the problem in the South African case had to do with a transition from basic education to higher education.
“But then it becomes the responsibility of the think-tank that you are to guide the ministry of basic education into what is it that needs to be done differently so that you don’t have especially black students struggling to fit in to the tertiary education level and many of them drop out as a result‚” Mogoeng said.
Mogoeng said the universities could help cut down the many law courses that we offer.
“I am not too sure that we need to have them as many as they are.”
Mogoeng said he knew of lawyers who specialised in areas of law they had never been lectured on.
“Just identify the fundamentals that will help students to grasp what will make our constitutional democracy tick‚ develop your courses along those lines and we will go somewhere‚” Mogoeng said.
By: Ernest Mabuza -TimesLIVE
Source: TMG Digital.